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Lee Konitz: The Real Lee Konitz

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Konitz’s diehard fans must be a happy bunch; between the fairly constant stream of reissues and the frequent new releases, people who can’t get enough of Lee can at least get a lot. As I’ve said before on these pages, I am one of the people that like some but not all Konitz. Even though he always plays well, my real love is the hard-bop stylists. I mention this because I think others with similar tastes who have given up on the neo-boppers should consider going back to early Konitz. Even if his approach seems less gutsy and his tone thin to ears habituated to Jackie McLean, I don’t see how anyone who likes modern jazz can resist The Real Lee Konitz. The recording dates from a two-week engagement at a club in Pittsburgh in 1957 and features a quartet with guitarist Billy Bauer, bassman Peter Ind, and drummer Dick Scott. Trumpeter Don Ferrara joins in on two numbers. This is an outstanding record, even by late ’50s standards. Konitz is “cerebral” in that he thinks fast and builds his solos brilliantly—the same is true of any great soloist. And his tone might be called “cool,” but he’s a very emotional player. The fact that these musicians knew each other well is born out in consistently fine group interaction. (Was this the humble beginning of Ind’s illustrious career as a recording engineer?)

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